Great line-up to mark millionth runner

SPORTING LEGEND ... Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson.
SPORTING LEGEND ... Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson.

A CELEBRATION of the North East’s finest achievements and triumphs is coming to South Tyneside to mark the Great North Run’s millionth finisher.

Touring exhibition Great North Greats is part of the celebrations for this year’s historic Bupa Great North Run.

The half-marathon, on Sunday, September 7, reaches a landmark this year, with the millionth finisher set to complete the course from Newcastle to South Shields.

The exhibition will feature five of the region’s celebrated greats, including Sir Joseph Swan, inventor of the incandescent lightbulb, industrialist William Armstrong, who created Cragside, in Northumberland, the first house in the world to be lit by hydroelectricity, and engineer and feminist campaigner Rachel Parsons, as well as sporting legends, rower Harry Clasper and wheelchair racer Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson.

Alongside that will be a number of digital stories and oral histories highlighting many of the region’s unsung heroes, and their stories of triumph against the odds.

Beth Bate, director of Bupa Great North Run Culture, which is behind the exhibition, said: “September 2014 is a milestone, not just for this great region, but for the world.

“The region’s sporting triumphs and industrial achievements should be seen side by side, and the Great North Greats event is a shining tribute and example of this.

“Behind all of this success is a shared set of characteristics that have shaped the identity of a region and the values of its residents.

“In less than 35 years, the Bupa Great North Run has become one of the most recognisable sporting events on the planet and far from being something new, greatness in the North East is a result of centuries of achievement and innovation that have played a role in the lives of anyone that has ever lived or worked here.”

The exhibition will have a special opening at 105 King Street, South Shields, on Saturday, August 30, offering family fun activities held at both the exhibition space and at South Shields Museum and Art Gallery, in Ocean Road.

The touring exhibition will then travel to a number of community venues along the Great North Run course ahead of reaching its final destination at the Discovery Museum in Newcastle next year.

As part of the Great North Greats exhibition programme, Great North Run Culture and Tyne and Wear Archives and Museums have also commissioned visual artist Matt Stokes as the GNR Million artist in residence.

For this exhibition, Matt has been researching the industrial heritage of Tyneside, and will explore the communities and pastimes that emerged from the working world.

Twitter: @shieldsgazvicki